Can I curiosity you in a non-sexual recreation of “would you reasonably?” I do know watching individuals ponder isn’t as enjoyable as watching them squirm, however this can be a sports activities web site, not the lounge of your school slum. So, who would you reasonably belief: The Brooklyn Nets or the Philadelphia 76ers?
I ask as a result of the Nets have gained 9 straight, and the Sixers got here up simply in need of their ninth in a row, dropping a detailed recreation to the Wizards on Tuesday. Earlier than their respective scorching streaks, Brooklyn was 13-12, and Philly was .500 at 12-12. These two groups are clearly linked by the James Harden-Ben Simmons swap, but additionally by narrative. Each are extraordinarily proficient, each are hyped, each are in massive markets, and each have proven little or no purpose to belief them within the postseason.
I believe hoops heads will agree that we will belief Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid… so long as they’re wholesome. The No. 2 and three guys on the crew — Kyrie Irving and Simmons, and Harden and Tobias Harris — properly, it’s up for debate.
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn mentioned his crew has been conserving it about basketball, which was the impetus for Kyrie and KD coming collectively within the first place. Irving has been quiet, and that’s clearly a superb factor. Who is aware of how lengthy Durant can keep out of his mentions, and Irving can maintain his conspiracies to himself, however for proper now, it looks as if that is what Brooklyn had in thoughts when this plan was hatched.
Whenever you add in Simmons, who’s lastly within the good state of affairs, this crew has the whole lot you’d need in a contender: MVP candidate, legit No. 2 choice, Swiss military defender. The Slim Reaper (I’ll use it despite the fact that he gained’t) is getting a cool 30-6-5 on 56/37/92 capturing splits, and that is nothing new. He’s as aggressive as he’s proficient, and it additionally reveals on protection if you watch him battle down low.
I hate to offer Irving any credit score as a result of he’d reasonably burn the whole lot down than admit he’s flawed, however he’s approaching the hallowed 50/40/90 mark (49/36/91) and has been wholesome sufficient to play in additional video games than he misses. (Suspension however.)
But, as a result of we’ve seen the Nets implode greater than we’ve seen them succeed, we all know how shortly it could all come undone.
Then there’s Philadelphia. Even with Luka Doncic’s 60-point outing Tuesday, Embiid nonetheless leads the league in scoring. At any time when Harden passes the brink for video games performed to be eligible for help chief, he’ll be it. Over the previous 10 video games, we’re seeing level Harden. He tied the Philly document for assists in a recreation (21) towards the Clippers and distributed 13 assists per night time in that span.
Additionally throughout this stretch, he by no means tried greater than 19 photographs in a recreation, averaging simply over 15 photographs per night time. I might write 3,000 phrases on how infuriating it’s that Harden can play this manner when he needs to however would reasonably shoot stepbacks — and I would nonetheless — however not right this moment. He did the identical facilitate-first act for a month in Brooklyn, and everyone acted prefer it was Lewis Scott passing for the primary time ever in “Celtic Pleasure.” No, that’s how regular basketball is performed, and when you’ve gotten the very best scoring middle within the NBA in your crew, that’s how you must method issues.
Say what you need about Nikola Jokić — and there aren’t sufficient phrases within the English language for hoops hipsters to explain the Joker — I’m unsure he might do what Embiid does from a scoring standpoint. Embiid had 48 final night time, and since Luka went en fuego, was rendered to the margins of Sportscenter. This season, the Cameroonian middle has two video games of 50-plus, and 4 video games of 40 or extra. He’s solely appeared in 25 of them. So nearly 1 / 4 of the time, he’s going for 40 burgers. That’s silly.
And I do know Harris is getting paid like a 3rd choice despite the fact that it’s actually Tyrese Maxey, and that’s superb if you wish to argue the pecking order. Maxey has missed the previous month, and Harris might, and has, disappeared for a month when wholesome so no matter. So long as Harden shrinks when the invoice comes due, who’s No. 3 or 4 gained’t matter.
With these two groups, it’s concerning the guys on the high as a result of they’ll decide how far every crew goes within the playoffs.
Certainly one of my favourite solutions to “Would you reasonably?” is: I’d reasonably die than select between licking a canine’s ass and snorting dried cat shit. And that’s sort of how I really feel about this query. No, I don’t take both of those groups critically, and I’ve zero confidence that these idyllic stretches of excellent to nice basketball are going to be those we see in April and Could.
So who would I reasonably decide between the 76ers and the Nets? I’d reasonably soar off a bridge.